The Lisbon Oceanarium is currently working hard on the acquisition of knowledge regarding the reproduction cycle of species, such as corals and the fish that live in them, “knowing that 90% will disappear in the sequence of global warming and acidification of the oceans” said João Falcato, CEO of Lisbon Oceanarium . He underlines that “we are committing hard with knowing how the species reproduce, so we can later simulate the conditions in which these species breed such as temperature, light and even the moon phases.”
The Oceanarium is, therefore, creating the conditions needed for the reproduction of species, so that in a few years it could be a Noah’s Arch of the oceans. It is a non-profit entity, that contributes to the conservation of nature and has created numerous programs from conservation to education.
The program “Marine Plasticology”, for example, visits schools to deliver classes on nature and environment, just in 2019 it has reached 214 thousand children and is now making its comeback.
It was also the first public aquarium in Europe to obtain the certifications ISO 14001 (Environment) and EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) and was distinguished with the prize EMAS Award in 2005.
Since in 2018, it has opted for green energy and transformed its whole shop, where 97% of the stock consists of sustainable products.
Its environmental program is the largest at national level and its marine biologists take care of the animals 24 hours a day, being specialists in their unique behaviour.
According to João Falcato, “the global challenge is to ensure that this space’s activity can contribute to the conservation of the species” and adds “in this moment we are producing the red book of sea fish of Portugal, with the goal of evaluating which ones are at risk of extinction and thus protect the priorities. The book will be published in 2023 and, as we speak, we are betting on the cryopreservation of gametes.”
The Oceanarium is currently financing several projects that support the conservation of marine fauna and flora, all income made from ticketing being invested in these projects.
Join us in the discovery of the sea and of its fascinating creatures in a place that will leave you “breathless”.
1. Exhibitions: Learn and raise awareness
I was at The Lisbon Oceanarium and the fascination for this giant aquarium was immediate. An immersive exhibition surrounded by an impacting silence that stimulates all five senses to children and adults alike, leaves room to anyone’s imagination.
200 million human beings on this planet depend on fishing for their survival, and one of the questions that arises is: how do we make a difference as far as the fish that we consume are concerned?
It is, therefore, important to know what is happening with the ocean to better understand how we can make a difference. The Lisbon Oceanarium is a ludic attraction where learning is a constant.
Ranging across multiple scientific fields, the exhibitions at Lisbon’s Oceanarium are playful and educative tools the goal of which is to stimulate respect for life in the oceans, as well as their discovery.
2. “Aquarium, a planet, an ocean”
The permanent exhibition, named “Aquarium – A planet, an ocean” always guarantees a very surprising visit.
You need to walk and walk a lot to see all the giant “aquariums” with their fascinating inhabitants.
Here you can see 8,000 animals and plants from 500 species in seven million litres of salt water. Knowledge and enchantment go hand in hand in a magical place where families, teachers, students, grandparents and grandchildren go together.
3. “Forests Underwater” by Takashi Amano
Here, you will meet contemplation and harmony, in the first place, followed by a quietness that leads us to reflection, maybe due to the peace that the blue conveys and the smooth sound of water that carries you to another dimension.
A dimension of silence in a universe of “submerged forests where one learns how to look in a different form, to value and to protect”.
There is an unexplored and fascinating world of tropical jungles, with more than 10 thousand fish in the temporary exhibition.
4. “ONE, the sea as you never felt it”
The goal of The Lisbon Oceanarium with this new artwork is to make us feel the sea via an immersive experience. It is an art installation that aims to feature the deep connection of Mankind with the ocean.
João Falcato, the administrator of Oceanarium, stresses that “this exhibition is such a unique piece of art, noteworthy of any major international museum, it is unexpected and will surprise anyone who will visit us. We hope to offer an unprecedented experience and instil a feeling of admiration and responsibility for the preservation of this wonderful underwater world.”
The specialist in underwater photography, artistic director and film director, Maya de Almeida Araújo, was the person responsible for this challenge, working on the human element integrated with the water.
Just to add to it, all images were captured within Portuguese maritime territory, from continental Portugal to the Azores and Madeira, during eight months of filming.
5. Guided tours: Ludic and creative activities
As for guided tours, there is a very wide range of offers, from “The sea is for all ages” to the marvellous “Concert(s) for babies”, “Oceanarium for all”, “Fado Miudinho”, “Holidays underwater” and even “Sleeping with the sharks”.
“Fado Miudinho”, for example, is a show where you literally dive in this very Portuguese way of singing with the ocean as its background, in an absolutely magical fusion of colours and wonderful sounds.
As for the adventure “Sleeping with the Sharks”, the goal is to have children and families, as well as schools, spend a night at the Oceanarium, allowing them to get to know this fascinating animal in detail, in addition to teachings on how to preserve the species.
Children’s sensitivity is awakened through music and colours in the “Concert for Babies” and “Holidays under water”. For a day, or more, children from 4 to 12 years of age will take a breath-taking journey of the Oceanarium, taking part in hands-on activities, visits, exhibitions, arts and theatre. An unforgettable experience full of a unique magic which will for sure be in the album of their best holidays ever.
I will finally add the inclusive visits for visually impaired people. This visit was developed in a consultive partnership with Associação dos Cegos e Amblíopes de Portugal (Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired of Portugal). A sea educator of the Oceanarium will lead the tour, describing the exhibition’s spaces and the most emblematic species, giving the users a lively experience through its stories, sounds and tactile materials, that promote a wider knowledge of the ocean and its sustainability.
Besides the main visits that are usually available, the Oceanarium organizes birthday parties for children between 4 and 7 years old, where, besides the usual guests, family and friends, you will be joined by the ocean sunfish, the manta ray, the bull shark, the sea otter and, the king of the party, the clownfish. During the party you will also learn tips on the preservation of oceans and of marine species.
In line with its scope of preservation, the Oceanarium provides financial support to multiple international projects, such as the PIABA project in the Rio Negro region of the Amazon, in Brazil, as well as the Tatô program in S. Tomé and Principe which supports the protection of turtles, and the project “Fly with blue rays” in the Azores, among others.
6. A sensitive experience
From my visit, I especially remember the silence into which the sea carries us, in a murmur that catches us and makes us travel to the deepest point of our souls, as if diving in the ocean was also about discovering ourselves, in an environment of true, sensorial and unique peace.
I also keep in mind the colours of the sea, from the orange of the starfish, the transparency of the jellyfish, not forgetting the enormous beauty of the fish that look like they were painted. Some seemed as if they were dancing for us, in an elegant or comical dance filled with unmatched beauty.
I also remember the well-humoured sea lion who played with objects and was the delight of all visitors, the curious walk of the penguins and the fascination in the eyes of the children and adults, who gathered in front of the giant tanks, anxious to stare at each detail.
For all those wishing to ensure that a new generation is deeply conscious, informed and vigilant about what action is needed to protect and preserve the oceans and its species, the Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the most important places to take your children, to help raise their awareness.
In my opinion, no matter what age you are, you will certainly be moved by such a beautiful space. Remember that water is life and that we need the ocean and its species for the world to be a better and more sustainable place.